Menu

carmelitecuria logo en

  • image
  • image
  • image
  • image
  • image
  • image
  • image
  • image
  • image
  • image
  • image
  • image
  • image
  • image
  • image
  • image
  • image
  • image
Wednesday, 18 October 2023 09:31

Synod Quietly Works at Vatican

Paul VI Audience Hall Paul VI Audience Hall

Sometimes referred to as Pope Francis’ Vatican III, this year’s synod gathering bears little resemblance to Vatican II in appearance or content. General sessions for Vatican II were held in St. Peter’s Basilica with banks of seat constructed to allow the participants to face each other. Today’s synod is being held on Paul VI Hall which can hold over 6,300 people. The seats for the papal audiences have been replaced by 35 large round tables with 10-12 participants sitting in 365 seats. Prelates, religious, and lay are interspersed by language groups. Even past synods were held in a large theater style space with the pope and prelates sitting in the front and the few lay and religious auditors seated in the back.

According to some, this is the first synod to intentionally create a spiritual atmosphere. There are moments of prayer and silence after three or four people speak. This is also a synod with some of the latest technologies. There is simultaneous translation into the major languages. Touch screen tablets are available for each voting member. They provide easy access to the documents needed as well as for voting. There are also four monitors at each table, giving participants close viewing of the speakers.

In the Catholic Church today, a synod that is designated an “Ordinary General Assembly” synod meets every three years and has a theme. "Extraordinary" synods can be called to deal with specific situations. Both synods and Councils refer an authoritative meeting of bishops for the purpose of church administration in the areas of teaching (faith and morals) or governance (church discipline or law). Efforts were made at this synod to bring in input beyond just the bishops.

The synod’s work has been divided into the following modules: 1) On the nature, meaning, and experience of synodality (October 4–7, 2023); 2) On Communion, Co-Responsibility, and Participation (October 9–21, 2023); Developing the Final Draft of the Summary Report of the First Session of the Assembly (October 23–28, 2023. This final draft will be used as a roadmap for the following year.

Mons. Filippo Iannone, O. Carm., prefect of the Dicastery for Legislative Texts, is the only Carmelite participating. Some members of the synod have computers and space available at CISA, the Carmelite house of studies in Rome, near the Vatican.

Little actual news about the discussions has come out of the synod. Dr. Paolo Ruffini, Prefect of the Vatican’s Dicastery of Communications, said the information flow from the meetings will be “very limited.” He suggested that journalists can report instead on “the absence of news” according to Catholic Vote, who advertises themselves America’s Top Catholic Advocacy Organization. The Dicastery which Ruffini leads includes responsibility for the Vatican’s Internet, radio, and television services, as well as its daily newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano.

During the first synodal assembly, Pope Francis asked journalists covering the synod to “exercise an asceticism… a certain fasting” in their coverage of the synod. He said, “I ask journalists to please make people understand this, so that they know that the priority is listening. … This is why I ask you, communicators, to carry out your role well, correctly, so that the Church and people of good will – the others will say what they want – understand that the Church also has the priority of listening. Pass this on: it’s so important.”

Reactions to the synod have been across the spectrum. A sister from Guam was quoted in the National Catholic Reporter as observing, “I'm experiencing and witnessing the dismantling of the hierarchy," she said, describing the scene inside the synod hall — where cardinals, bishops, young and older lay Catholics, and women religious like herself are sitting together at roundtables, without hierarchical distinctions.

Perhaps the strongest conservative reaction to the synod was summarized by American Cardinal Raymond Burke. In July of this year, Cardinal Burke and other traditionalist cardinals sent a letter to Francis known as a “dubia” that conveyed their concerns about the Synod. According to a report in the New York Times, Cardinal Burke recently said, “The synod that will open tomorrow, clearly has the ‘harmful goal’ of reshaping the hierarchy of the church with radical, secular, and modern ideas. Cardinal Burke, who is not participating in the assembly, said he was doubtful that the actual participants were being upfront about their true motives.

Press Bulletins on the Synod from the Holy See’s Press OfficeEnglish

Vatican Synod Website

Cookie Notice

This website uses cookies to perform some required functions and to analyse our website traffic. We will only collect your information if you complete our contact or prayer request forms so that we can respond to your email or include your intentions/request in prayer. We do not use cookies to personalise content and ads. We will not share any details submitted via our contact email forms to any third party.